Cameron Muh | Posted: 10 Dec 2020 | Updated: 11 Jan 2021

Cougars never trail in 72-58 win over Montana State

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P. Johnson Drive vs. MSU 2020-21
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PROVO, Utah — BYU women’s basketball ran out to an early 10-point lead over the first four minutes of the game and never trailed during its 72-58 win over Montana State on Thursday, Dec. 10. 

“I thought we came out at the start of the game with a lot of intensity defensively,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “We didn't let them score for a while. We struggled offensively for the first three or four minutes, but I thought our defense was aggressive. We took some of their key players out early and then we started going. This team can score and when it gets going, it can score very quickly.”

The Cougars shot 48.1% from the field and 43.3% from deep on the day. Shaylee Gonzales led the team with 18 points, three rebounds and three assists. Paisley Johnson Harding finished with 11 points and six rebounds.

The Cougars scored first on two free throws by Gonzales. Lauren Gustin scored inside and Harding knocked down two free throws, giving BYU an early 6-0 lead.

Gustin hit a jumper at the top of the key and Gonzales scored on an inbounds pass to herself off the back of a Bobcat, capping a 10-0 Cougar run to open the game. Harding then nailed a corner triple, putting BYU up 13-2.

Maria Albiero knocked down a pull-up jumper and Tegan Graham scored on a cutting layup, making it 17-5, Cougars. Two free throws by Graham then gave BYU a 12-point advantage. Treys by Gonzales and Smiler put the Cougars up 18 at the end of the first quarter.

Montana State scored four straight to start the second quarter, before Gustin got a layup down low for a 27-13 BYU lead. Albiero scored on a kick-out triple and Gonzales hit from deep in transition on the following possession, stretching the lead to 20.

Graham scored on the break off an assist from Harding, making it 35-13, BYU. Working around a Sara Hamson screen, Tahlia White knocked down a pull-up jumper, giving the Cougars a 21-point advantage.

A step back Gonzales three with time winding down in the second quarter made it 40-18 at the half. BYU shot 53.8% from the field and 37.5% from three in the first half. Gonzales led all scores in the first 20 minutes with 10 points on 3 of 5 shooting, including 2 of 4 from deep.

The Cougars held the Bobcats to 16.7% from the field and 7.1% from three in the half. Montana State’s Darian White, Kola Bad Bear and Katelynn Limardo each had four points at the half.

Coming out of the half, Hamson got on the board with a layup. Gonzales scored off the back of a Montana State player again, then stole the Bobcat’s inbounds pass and got another layup. A Hamson layup doubled up the Bobcats at 48-24.

Smiler and Harding both knocked down their second threes of the game and the Cougars led 54-34. Two free throws by Gustin gave BYU a 22-point lead. Triples by Smiler and Graham put the Cougars up 62-37 through three quarters.

Harding opened up the scoring for BYU in the fourth, knocking down her third 3-pointer of the game and putting the Cougars up 24. Gonzales then hit her third triple, making it 68-46, BYU. Malli Perri scored on a baseline jumper and Kyra Beckman nailed a trey, giving the Cougars a 72-54 lead.

The Bobcats scored twice down the stretch and the Cougars won, 72-58. BYU held Montana State to 26% from the field and 15% from beyond the arc. White finished with 16 points, Bad Bear had 10 and Tori Martell scored 10 as well for the Bobcats.

Graham and Smiler both added nine points for the Cougars. Gustin contributed eight points and five rebounds, and Albiero and White both finished with five points each.

WIth the win, BYU advances to 3-1 on the season. They Cougars are back in the Marriott Center on Saturday, Dec. 12, at 12 p.m. MST to play Boise State. The game will be televised on BYUtv and streamed on the BYUtv app.

Player Notes

  • Gonzales led all scorers at the break with 10 points on 3 of 5 shooting. She finished the game as the team’s leading scorer for the third time this season, scoring 18 points to go along with three rebounds and three assists
  • Gustin had six points, four rebounds and an assist in the first half. She ended the contest with eight points, five boards and two assists 
  • Harding scored in double figures for the third time this season, recording 11 points while adding six assists and a steal
  • Hamson led the team in rebounds with seven, a new season high. She also scored a season-high four points to go along with two blocks, a steal and an assist
  • Four other Cougars tallied season highs in points on the afternoon: Tegan Graham (9), Kaylee Smiler (9), Kyra Beckman (3) and Tahlia White (2)

Team Notes

  • BYU shot 54% from the field during the first 20 minutes, compared to Montana State’s 17%. The Cougars ended the contest with a 48% shooting percentage while holding the Bobcats to 26%
  • BYU set a new season high in 3-pointers made, going 14 of 31 from distance. The team's 14 3-pointers was the most since the 2010-11 season, when the Cougars hit 15 against BYU-Hawaii. 
  • The Cougars also set a new season high in assists with 20. Montana State had three
  • In blocks, BYU had a season-high five while the Bobcats had two
  • The Cougars out-rebounded Montana State 35-33